Durga Puja Celebration Kolkata 2016 :

The Devi-Mahatmya in the Markandeya Purana, a fifth-sixth century text (though with his presence on many occasions alluded to in the Mahabharata the date of sage Markandeya seems to be much earlier; maybe, Markandeya was the common appellation of the sages in the line, not the name of an individual sage, or in view of his timeless contribution the name of sage Markandeya was subsequently added), perceives the aggregate cosmic energy as Mahamaya: Vishnu’s ‘shakti’ that the text defines as Devi manifesting in three aspects, viz., Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati, having different forms and appearances but a common objective of avenging the wrong-doer. This in the Mahabharata like early texts and sculptures of the early centuries of the Common Era is the Durga’s role. Quite significant as it is, the Devi-Mahatmya uses the term ‘Durga’, as it uses the term ‘Devi’, in its all sections devoted to either of Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati, which indicates that these are as much the Durga’s manifestations, as they are the Devi’s. The text perceives Devi primarily as the redeemer of ‘durgam’ – the most difficult, a situation, act, or objective, and hence, Devi is Durga – the redeemer of ‘durgam’, in her every aspect.

As regards her antiquity Durga is an entity beyond time. Even the Markandeya Purana that identifies Mahamaya – Devi’s proto form, as Vishnu’s ‘shakti’ contends with specificity that it was her who gave to Vishnu, as also to Brahma and Shiva, their forms. This statement has two implications, one that she preceded not only Vishnu but the great Trinity, and the other, that she was Vishnu’s ‘shakti’ by invocation and by her favour, not by Vishnu’s authority. Thus, by whatever name, the Great Goddess preceded all forms, their creator, sustainer and destroyer, the time that spanned them and the space where they evolved. Ironically, sage Markandeya sought to subordinate her to Vishnu as his ‘shakti’ but overwhelming him, or rather the entire Trinity, the goddess bowed them to her subordination. In the tradition gods, even Trinity, are often seen bowing to her in devotion but Durga is never seen bowing to any, divine or demonic, justifying her name ‘Jaya’.